Train services between London and Scotland are set to be improved by a £2.7 billion deal to build new carriages.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced today (April 16) that private funding had been secured to build new “state of the art” trains including 500 carriages which will operate on the East Coast Main Line.
McLoughlin said that the new trains would add 19% more seats on each service operating from London’s Kings Cross station to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh, as well as reducing journey times by up to 15 minutes.
The new Class 800 trains will be built by Hitachi Rail Europe in County Durham and are scheduled to begin entering service from 2018.
McLoughlin said: “These new trains will transform rail travel between many of the great towns and cities of England and Scotland. This deal is further proof that our long-term economic plans are on track, creating jobs and breathing new life into the UK’s train-building industry.”
The new trains are part of the government’s £5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme, which will also see 369 carriages introduced from 2017 on to the Great Western line which runs from London Paddington to the West Country and South Wales.
Hitachi Rail’s global CEO Alistair Dormer added: “This is an important milestone in the delivery of Class 800 series trains for the East Coast Main Line.
“Hitachi Rail has been working closely with the Department for Transport, train operators and passenger groups to design the new trains.”
The East Coast Main Line is currently being run by the government but it wants to return the franchise to the private sector from early 2015. Three bidders have been short-listed: First Group, a joint bid by Eurostar and French company Keolis, and another consortium of Virgin and Stagecoach.
The Department for Transport has also announced a new franchise agreement on the Greater Anglia train network which will double the number of weekday off-peak services between Stansted airport and Cambridge, as well as improving carriages.
Under the agreement, Abellio Greater Anglia will continue running services between London Liverpool Street and stations in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex for the next 27 months until July 2016.
“This deal means real improvements for passengers on the Greater Anglia network. It means more services and better-equipped trains, including international connections via Stansted airport to the rest of Europe that the region needs,” said McLoughlin.